Treating girls and boys differently at primary age

(61 Posts)
TeWiSavesTheDay Thu 10-Jul-14 11:29:46

Continuing from another thread (or a few) would anyone like to add examples of ways that girls and boys are treated differently at primary level and what they dislike (or like) about it.

I'll start with uniforms, at my child's school there are separate uniform lists for girls and boys. The boys list is very simple (trousers/shorts/shirt/jumper) the girls list is very complicated with different items allowed in different years.
I don't like it because I think it implies both that girls should have more options than boys (feeding the feminism gone too far myth that females have more choice than men) and also the need to have children differentiated by gender at this age- if girls are allowed to wear everything on the boy list why is the reverse not true? Why should a boy with additional needs struggle with a jumper when a cardigan would be more practical? Or even if they just prefer to wear something from the girl list why are we saying they can't?

grimbletart Thu 10-Jul-14 11:37:28

TeWi: why are we saying they can't…?

I suspect that even in 2014 it is because girls are "allowed" to like boy stuff because they are liking something that is, even subconsciously, deemed superior or better. The reverse does not apply because why would you want to like something that is, even subconsciously, deemed inferior?

It's just the same with activities. People smile and say "tomboy" indulgently when a girl climbs a tree or shows any inkling of taking a risk, while a boy called "girly" is being sneered at.

The mistaken attitudes of thousands of years will take more than a generation or two to disappear sad

My pet primary school hate was when the boys in kindergarten were the ones told to move the benches, because as everyone knows, even at 5 girls are weedy little specimens whose wombs might fall out in they lifted anything. angry That was what made me a feminist at the tender age of 5.

AskBasil Thu 10-Jul-14 11:38:38

I found (and am still finding at secondary) that girls' behaviour is policed far more severely than that of boys.

My DD was and is constantly coming home with tales of how this boy did x y and z and nothing happened to him, while her friend (female) did something far less disruptive and got a detention.

It's much harder to see - because teachers are always inconsistent anyway, no matter how hard they try not to be, people can be having an off day, there may be many more incidences that she hasn't noticed or counted which balance things out etc. - but I suspect that boys are allowed to behave much worse than girls are right from the off.

TeWiSavesTheDay Thu 10-Jul-14 11:43:29

Yes. I agree. It's okay for a girl to wear boys clothing because it is more practical - but girls clothing can't possibly be a more practical choice. hmm

Teaching boys to be Chivalrous is definitely another one for me - though I've not heard of it at school yet there have been some rather heated debates about this with extended family telling the boys to they always have to be served after girl children etc

bucketofbathtoys Thu 10-Jul-14 11:43:50

Uniform is my pet hate. I hate it when I see schools with separate lists especially when summer shorts, trousers etc are not on the girls lists.
Two RC schools near us insist on skirts or summer dresses for girls - the attitude made me steer away from them. Private schools seem to go even further.

Some people think its a non issue but if you have a 4 year old that hates wearing skirts, whose friends are all boys, it is not.

Luckily our chosen school does not have separate lists - just unisex polo shirts, jumpers, fleeces, cardis, PE shorts for all - it up to parents what grey bits go on the bottom half !!!!

I am also delighted that all the sports are mixed - again the schools above have separate girls and boys sports.

I detested wearing hideous girls uniforms in the 80s

Hedgehogsrule Thu 10-Jul-14 11:44:59

My DD is in secondary, sorry, but the outside space for sports is limited. Apparently the boys are sometimes bussed off to a better sports ground elsewhere, while the girls are left "at home". Sometimes the very best of the girls are allowed to go with the boys.

TeWiSavesTheDay Thu 10-Jul-14 11:51:01

Secondary examples definitely welcome - Hedge shock that's so bad!

I was thinking that at lots of schools the boys are given the choice of sports that they could continue professionally, eg football, rugby, cricket - but girls are often offered sports like rounders, aerobics or dance which is much harder to make a living from.

But shipping the boys off to better facilities is a whole nother level.

bucketofbathtoys Thu 10-Jul-14 12:13:23

Hedge that is unreal !!!

kim147 Thu 10-Jul-14 12:19:21

"Typical boy" - heard so often in the primary staffroom and used to either dismiss behaviour or to ignore problems such as handwriting / dyspraxia.

There's hopefully been a lot more effort to ensure everyone feels included in the classroom - such as how to include quiet people or those who aren't confident.

Volunteers - you can always guarantee that it is mostly girls who will volunteer (or even just ask) if there are any jobs that need doing.

Yes to lifting - I make a conscious effort to include all people in those jobs. But you do see it.

The playground - fascinating watching the use of space. How it's normally the boys who dominate with their football.

BetterWithCheese Thu 10-Jul-14 12:25:30

I'm dreading DCs starting school. I'm from Canada and we had no school uniforms and always had mixed PE classes. We also had the same sports teams for boys and girls - soccer, volleyball, basketball, track and field and rugby. We fought for a girls' rugby team but it happened quite easily and by the second year lots of other schools had teams too. That was over 20 years ago!

LurcioAgain Thu 10-Jul-14 12:32:29

YY kim - I too find it fascinating watching boys monopolise space in the playground when I drop DS off at school.

I have rehearsals once a week in another of the local primaries, and their staff room has a copy of "Why men can't iron", which (in its introduction) contains a sentence to the effect that "for every one outstanding female mathematician, there are thirteen outstanding male mathematicians." (I am a theoretical physicist, so not too bad at maths, and I work with a lot of outstanding female mathematicians...) I am so glad DS doesn't go to that school.

And (outside school example) recently in a park near my father's, DS and I ended up playing football with some other kids and their dad. One of the girls, aged about 10, was fantastic (I used to play Sunday league - she was, aged 10, considerably better than I was at that age). Her dad was very encouraging and (very impressively) did nothing to squash her competitive streak (I've heard way too many games disrupted by "Now, Jane, give Bob a fair turn" when the same would not have been said had it been John and Bob). I got talking to the dad - no local girls' teams, the boys' teams (and it doesn't matter at that age because pre puberty there is no difference in strength or speed) won't take her because the boys refuse to play with a girl. sad angry

LumieresForMe Thu 10-Jul-14 12:42:01

He is a boy so that's normal he is good at maths. He is a boy so that's normal he us struggling with spelling.
Said along side of 'girls aren't good at maths bits a fact and I know better than you because I'm a teacher' when I gently pointed out I didn't agree with the statement.

I've also had a male teacher explaining to the class that when 'men' do dome shopping, they go int shop take what they were looking for and come out. Whereas 'women' look at a lot of other things that they don't need, spend a lit if time in the shop to come out with a lot of stuff but maybe not what they went in for! If that teacher hadn't been a really good one (apart from that!) I would have gone guns blazing. Because then ds was trying to convince me it's ok to say so 'because that's what most women do'. I know you don't mummy but you are just weird and doing in a different way than everyone else anyway.

LumieresForMe Thu 10-Jul-14 12:45:01

In my home country, ball games aren't allowed on the playground. They take OP much space and stops the quieter children from enjoying themselves too.
And it's also reinforcing that apart from football there is nothing else interesting to do (male orientated sport etc)

TeWiSavesTheDay Thu 10-Jul-14 17:43:25

Urgh. I hate the whole typical boy/girl thing.

Definitely not in the spirit of every child matters and EYFS, and yet so persistent!

BarbarianMum Thu 10-Jul-14 17:57:35

There is a notice on the door of the Reception classroom at my kids school. It reads:

'Boys (n) noise plus dirt'

Just to make sure we get that straight from the beginning.

I have sons so tend to notice the things that 'box' them more. This week it was a letter telling us about all the things they were going to do to make literacy more appealing for boys. Because no boy could possibly be engaged in literacy as it is now. And because girls who are not engaged don't count. hmm

grimbletart Thu 10-Jul-14 18:01:16

Lumiere: I'm weird too then as I go into a shop, race around with a list. In and out like a dose of salts. I hate it when DH comes with me because he pootles round grabbing things here and there and agonising over what brand of whatever to have. Shopping, whether for food or clothes should rate as an extra circle of hell grin

LynetteScavo Thu 10-Jul-14 18:07:44

The only difference at my DCs primary is the uniform, boys aren't allowed to wear skirts or dresses.

I did once have to pick up the deputy head on a comment he made when I complained that DS2 had hit DD in school and he wasn't told off - apparently because they were siblings. hmm The deputy head agreed with me,then said; "Yes, she's younger than him.....and a girl." WTF does her being a girl have to do with it?

gamescompendium Thu 10-Jul-14 19:04:35

There was a discussion (I think about the time of the 'no American writers in the National Curriculum' news) that spoke about how making literacy appealing to boys consisted of reading lots of war stories. Because boys just like fighting.

I really hate the separation of boys and girls for sports activities. And the domination of football by the boys is really annoying. DD1's friend had a football birthday party recently, DD1 loved it and was really competitive but she refuses to go to football after school because 'it's for boys' (it's not but the social pressure is strong). One of the sports weeks over the summer holidays has a 'boys sports' option (football, rugby etc) and a 'girls sports' option (gymnastics, dancing and cheerleading). Luckily we could vote with our feet and the DDs are attending one that does a big range of 'gender neutral' activities rather than segregating the sexes. It's so daft, my secondary school did mixed gym classes all the way through, some sports like hockey and basketball were fabulous as mixed sports because the girls and boys on average brought different skills to the game (e.g. all the netball the girls did at primary meant we were far better than the boys at passing the ball during a game of basketball. That taught the boys a thing or two about relative physical skill.).

Our school actually has a comment about 'celebrating difference' in their equality policy which although intended positively I think allows sexism to leak through. I checked our work policy to compare and it's far more strongly worded about stamping down on the -isms.

Stories told at school and in school plays. Princess in castle rescued by handsome prince. Gender roles reinforced by school plays even when the stories are less obviously gendered. E.g. the boys are the more active, adventurous characters.

Lots of extra effort to get boys reading, no extra effort to get girls interested in maths and science.

Football and cricket for boys, netball and dance for girls.

WHY?

gamescompendium Thu 10-Jul-14 19:23:39

Yes, stories. The only film that the DDs have seen at school with a female lead character is Frozen, everything else has male characters. I need to write and complain. Or give them our extra copy of Arriety.

BertieBotts Thu 10-Jul-14 19:37:11

It's pointed out in "Delusions of Gender" that children at primary school are constantly addressed as "boys and girls" rather than "children" or "Year four" or "everyone/all of us".

It sounds like a little thing but I had literally never ever noticed before and it's so true - it separates children out right down to how they think of themselves at a time where they are really searching for their "tribe" and how they fit into the world.

I hate all of the "get boys interested in literature" too, it just gives the assumption in the first place that boys won't be interested in literature. How about "how to get an uninterested pupil engaged in a topic", it doesn't need to be gender specific or topic specific, even.

LumieresForMe Thu 10-Jul-14 19:42:39

The problem is that then by the end if Y6 you do have this difference with girls in general being behind in maths and boys not liking reading/literature.
And then the teachers will say 'look. I was right. Girls aren't good at maths'.
Except that in my country, it's girls who are better at maths. More if them do a science/maths Aleveks and they get better results....
But it's in the genes for girls not to get maths.
<<despair>>

LurcioAgain Thu 10-Jul-14 20:17:18

Ph god yes, boys aren't interested in literature! I've already had "wait till he can read all those great non- fiction books" last year from DS' s reception teacher. She totally ignored me when I said we'd spent all weekend with him writing books (with me as amanuensis) - fiction books.

Romeyroo Thu 10-Jul-14 22:37:55

It starts at birth. DS cried a LOT compared to DD; I literally could not get out the house when he was a baby because he had to have his daytime nap at home. Otherwise, he screamed the place down and would not settle. DD was very portable and slept anywhere. When I mentioned this at all, the explanation was that it was because ds is a boy.

DS is very active, very physical in what he likes to do. Well, that is because he is a boy. DS is a cheeky monkey - well, what else do I expect with a boy?!?

I mean, it is just the way he is, but if I had money for the number of times people have said, it is because he is a boy, I would be rich.

He is not even in school yet, btw.

At my DD's school (primary) the girls play in the football team too, if they wish. My DD's friend plays. They are pretty good at being inclusive, bar one example which actually prompted me to write to the school to point out the sexism.

AskBasil Thu 10-Jul-14 22:41:09

Bit when girls cry a lot, it's because theyr'e going to be chatterboxes.

hmm

<Groan> at how stupid people are.

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